When can we legislate an opinion? Who is to say that an opinion is a fact? The left has long called to bring the personal into politics, while also calling to keep politics away from people’s private decisions. These two things cannot exist together in one’s mind.
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”-Plato
After a long Twitter discussion, I realized that this was the question at the heart of the debate. Is there a point that we can legislate morality? If so, what is that point? And, is there really an objective morality that can be applied in politics?
The discussion I found myself in was one about abortion, whether one can be personally opposed to it, but legislatively allow it. I think this principle is sound, but that it has limits. Here’s the tweet:
Legislation and Politics
So, today we’ll take a look at this principle to see if there is a threshold that allows us to “legislate morality.” And, I want to look at the political situation to see what is and what isn’t appropriate to legislate. This is an important discussion if we are to have a functioning society.
We can have beliefs about what is right and wrong, and we should. We ought to learn about the world and living properly in it. That is a virtuous and noble endeavor. And, I think that it is useful to engage in dialogue with others about the beliefs we hold. That is when it turns toward politics because politics is the way in which we learn how to live together.
Our political opinions are those opinions about right and wrong, and how they ought to be enacted in society. Our beliefs on politics are not simply what is wrong or right. Instead, it’s whether or not that action should be punished, how it ought to be regulated, and who is required to follow those rules. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, and it is here that we begin to decide what is right and wrong for society.
When Politics and Personal Meet
When we start to go from our personal beliefs to the political ones, it can be hard to have that discussion. If we talk about banning something or punishing an action, there are others who will be affected, and they may take that personally. It’s important to be delicate but clear in these discussions so we can let people know we aren’t attacking them, but are trying to curb the effect of something that is wrong or harmful.
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